Saturday, 27 August 2011

Opinions: Wes Anderson/Music.

Along with many other elements: brilliant actors and actresses, stunning visual locations, exceptional taste in both type and colour, one of the key elements which make Wes Anderson's films so remarkable is his choice of music in his films. To Margot and Richie's 'Ruby Tuesday' to the heartfelt and poignant 'Staralfur' in 'The Life Aquatic...' each piece, as if a jigsaw, seems to fit so perfectly into the filmic puzzle. Here are a few examples of secondary source reviews found online which detail Wes' soundtrack triumphs:

Wes Anderson's 10 Best Movie Music Moments

Perfectly matching a song with a scene is nothing new (see: Scorsese, Martin), but Wes Anderson takes the movie soundtrack to new levels of artistry. In all his films, the young writer-director displayed a record geek's ability to wow viewers with a song that's not only enjoyable but, at its best, makes a scene instantly memorable. From 'Rushmore' to 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' Spinner picks the director's 10 best music moments.

The Who, 'A Quick One While He's Away' ('Rushmore')
While a ton of songs in 'Rushmore' enhance scenes, this revenge montage, where Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman feud over the love of a local teacher, is absolutely killer in that department. As icing on the cake, Anderson stops the Who's sonic assault (lifted from their amazing performance on 'The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus') for a moment, then kicks it back in with a cut to Schwartzman in handcuffs being dragged down a high school hallway. Meanwhile, the Who, rather ironically, scream, "You are forgiven!"

Elliott Smith, 'Needle in the Hay' ('The Royal Tenenbaums')
Despite the film's often staged feel -- it's the first time Anderson packed into one film so many quirky characters and settings -- this harrowing scene dunks viewers into cold water. As an homage to Roman Polanski's 'Repulsion,' Anderson uses a blue filter and quick cuts of Luke Wilson staring into the camera, creating a chilly vibe; and as Smith sings, "But you idiot kid/You don't have a clue," you can't help but feel for Wilson, who seems to realize -- headband and sunglasses and all -- what a caricature he's become. Sadly, it's tough to watch this and not think of Smith's suicide, which occurred two years after the film's release.

Love, '7 and 7 Is' ('Bottle Rocket')
Anderson turns up this punishing protopunk nugget by Arthur Lee and Co. as Owen and Luke Wilson ransack a suburban house -- which we learn is actually a "practice job" -- as well as the childhood home of Luke's character. The director's first feature has a lot going for it -- plenty of distinctly Andersonian touches abound -- but the Wilson brothers' childlike relationship is its backbone. Love's spastic song illustrates this nicely when Lee wails, "When I was a boy I thought about the times I'd be a man." Listen to '7 and 7 Is' >>

The Rolling Stones, 'I Am Waiting' ('Rushmore')
The Stones get more soundtrack time than any other band in Anderson's films. Supposedly, a huge chunk of the budget for 'Bottle Rocket' went to securing rights to '2000 Man' -- and two of the band's songs are even played back-to-back in 'Tenenbaums.' But this is our favorite: The vulnerable, less cocky Stones here capture Schwartzman's teen angst exceptionally well and show how all three main characters are, as Mick Jagger puts it, "Waiting for someone to come out of somewhere."

The Stooges, 'Search and Destroy' ('The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou')
Hell, yes! Iggy Pop and Bill Murray together? During a gun fight? This is one of those musical moments that makes you want to stand up and cheer. Wearing a Speedo and a bathrobe, Murray shoots at pirates as the Stooges' meaty riffs make things even more chaotic. Best bit: the ship's intern getting stabbed in the shoulder.

The Kinks, 'Nothin' in This World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl' ('Rushmore')
Anderson originally planned to soundtrack 'Rushmore' with only Kinks songs but eventually decided to branch out and use a wider variety of mostly British Invasion tracks. An obvious nod to the scuba scene in 'The Graduate,' this scene also captures a sense of isolation. As a final act of rebellion, Bill Murray, drunk, bleary-eyed and smoking a cigarette, does a cannonball off the high dive to the disgust of everyone during his sons' birthday party.

The Ramones, 'Judy Is a Punk' ('The Royal Tenenbaums')
As cuckolded husband Bill Murray opens the case file on his wife Gwyneth Paltrow, the director shows Paltrow's shady past by hitting us with a slew of locales and Andersonian title cards set to this Ramones punk stomper. It plays like a sordid storybook about making out in Paris, the subway, a beaten-down cab, a New York City ferry, etc. -- a clever move by the director.

The Proclaimers, 'Over and Done With' ('Bottle Rocket')
'Bottle Rocket' co-writer Owen Wilson nails his role as an ambitious, if totally clueless, wannabe crook. And this peppy song by the Scottish twin outfit is a great choice: Like the song's sound, Wilson seems happy and optimistic, but, like the song's chorus, his hapless attempt at being a thief is pretty much "over and done with." 

Sigur Rós, 'Staralfur' ('The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou')
Up to this point, Anderson hadn't used much modern music in his soundtracks, save for 'Needle in the Hay' in 'Tenenbaums' and, of course, Mark Mothersbaugh's original scores. So when Steve's face-off against the Jaguar Shark goes down, it's surprising to hear this newish cut from Iceland's finest, which is appropriately otherworldly, sad and beautiful.

Nico, 'These Days' ('The Royal Tenenbaums')
The slo-mo music sequence has become such a staple for Anderson that we expect it with every release -- even with the stop-motion animated 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.' This one from 'Tenenbaums' is a simple, heartfelt moment with Nico singing, "These days I seem to think a lot/About the things that I forgot to do/And all the times I had the chance to" while Wilson is bowled over by Paltrow, his unrequited love -- and adopted sister.

13 Great Musical Moments in Wes Anderson Movies

Go ahead and file “Wes Anderson movie without a killer soundtrack” right next to the Easter Bunny under “Things That Don’t Exist.”
As Paste’s Jay Sweet wrote in his feature on the director, “Anderson has infused music into his productions so deftly that one seems naked without the other, sometimes to the point where once experienced in conjunction, it’s nearly impossible to extricate the pairing.”
It’s impossible to fit all of Anderson’s finest musical moments into one list, but below are 13 of our personal favorites. Some are silly, some are sad, but they’re all undeniably great. Proceed with caution if you’ve still got a few of these flicks in your Netflix queue; spoilers ahead.

13. Jarvis Cocker, “Petey’s Song” (The Fantastic Mr. Fox)
The Pulp frontman busts out a banjo and makes a cameo before getting schooled on songwriting. Check out the full song here.

12. The Ramones, “Judy Is A Punk” (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Margot Tenenbaum and her extremely apropos theme song. She smokes, in more ways than one.

11. The Rolling Stones, “I Am Waiting” (Rushmore)
In which Max Fischer, unable to successfully woo Ms. Cross, is “waiting for someone to come out of somewhere.”

10. Sigur Ros, “Staralfur” (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou)
Perhaps the best way to describe the scene where Zissou finally confronts the Jaguar Shark is to quote it directly: “It is beautiful, Steve.”

9. The Kinks, “This Time Tomorrow” (The Darjeeling Limited)
A song about venturing off into the unknown is the perfect way to open a movie about an epic train journey, and Anderson’s use of this one is the reason I can’t go on vacation without listening to The Kinks.

8. Peter Sarstedt, “Where Do You Go to My Lovely” (Hotel Chevalier)
The action in the prologue to The Darjeeling Limited fits so well with the music that Sarstedt might as well have been singing about Natalie Portman’s character.

7. The Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday” (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Margot and Richie decide they should just keep being secretly in love with each other, and Mick Jagger’s woeful cries bid adieu to what could have been.

6. Iggy & The Stooges, “Search and Destroy” (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou)
Oh, please, like you’re going to listen to someone other than Iggy Pop when you’re battling pirates? They totally had it coming, by the way — you don’t point guns at unpaid interns.

5. Seu Jorge, “Life On Mars” (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou)
This David Bowie classic takes on a new beauty when Jorge sings it in Portuguese.

4. The Who, “A Quick One While He’s Away” (Rushmore)
The hilarious revenge sequence is only made funnier by the refrains of “You are forgiven” in the background. Just goes to show you, Max Fischer’s not one to be tussled with. After all, he saved Latin. What did you ever do?

3. Elliott Smith, “Needle in the Hay” (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Richie’s suicide attempt is arguably Anderson’s most arresting scene, and when you consider the circumstances of Elliott Smith’s death, the pairing of the two is even more haunting.

2. Nico, “These Days” (The Royal Tenenbaums)
Alec Baldwin’s gravelly narration, Gwyneth Paltrow’s slo-mo descent from the bus and Nico’s grade-A Jackson Browne cover all come together perfectly in one of Wes’ best scenes.

1. The Kinks, “Strangers” (The Darjeeling Limited)
What do you get when you mix a fantastic song about the meaning of life with a poignant funeral scene in Anderson’s most visually stunning film? A spiritual journey that, no matter what Owen Wilson said, did in fact pan out.

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